It traces its historic and cultural identity to the kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol), which existed for four centuries as one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia. Due to Lan Xang's central geographical location in Southeast Asia, the kingdom was able to become a popular hub for overland trade, becoming wealthy economically as well as culturally. After a period of internal conflict, Lan Xang broke off into three separate kingdoms — Luang Phrabang, Vientiane, and Champasak. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three territories uniting to form what is now known as the country of Laos. It briefly gained freedom in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but was recolonised by France until it won autonomy in 1949. Laos became independent in 1953 under King Sisavang Vong.
The capital city is Vientiane. Other large cities include Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, and Pakse. The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 60 percent of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 40 percent of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.
The centre of the city consists of four main roads and is located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong River. Luang Prabang is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. One of the city's major landmarks is Mount Phou Si; a large steep hill which despite the constrained scale of the city, is 150 metres (490 ft) high; a steep staircase leads to Wat Chom Si shrine and an overlook of the city and the rivers. (Full article...)
Image 27Map showing linguistic family tree overlaid on a geographic distribution map of Tai-Kadai family. This map only shows general pattern of the migration of Tai-speaking tribes, not specific routes, which would have snaked along the rivers and over the lower passes. (from History of Laos)
Lieutenant (later Colonel) Deuane Sunnalath (Lao: ເດືອນ ສຸນນະລາດ, 1927–1978) led a schism within neutralist forces fighting in the Laotian Civil War. After following Captain Kong Le through his 1960 coup that established a third side in the war, Deuane led a walkout from Kong Le's Forces Armee Neutraliste (Neutral Armed Forces) in April 1963. Deuane would lead his disaffected Patriotic Neutralists into an alliance with the Communists, while the remaining Neutralists in FAN would favor the Royalists. Deuane would eventually become the Deputy Minister of Education in the Provisional Government for National Union on 9 April 1974. (Full article...)